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Man who bullied disabled neighbors receives unique punishment

Disability certainly makes life challenging at times. This is true both for those suffering from a disability and for their families and loved ones. There are many practical concerns to worry about, including the struggle for financial stability and qualifying for Social Security disability.

But there are also psychological and emotional difficulties that can accompany a disability. Sadly, some Americans with disabilities become victims of harassment and bullying – even by adults who should know better. But as one recent incident shows, there are times when bullies get to experience what they’ve been doing to others.

A news article from earlier this month talks about a judge’s rather unusual sentence for an Ohio man. The 62-year-old man has a history of harassing his neighbors and others in the community and has been convicted four times on charges related to harassment.

The man has also allegedly harassed and bullied a specific family in his neighborhood for 15 years. The family includes a husband suffering from dementia, a paralyzed son, and two adopted adult children who have developmental disabilities. The wife and several other family members are also African-American.

According to the woman, her neighbor has frequently leveled insults at her and her family, including racial slurs. He has also allegedly spit on her on at least two occasions. His alleged acts of physical harassment include smearing dog feces on one of the family’s cars and on a wheelchair ramp added on to the house.

In one incident, the bullying neighbor apparently didn’t like the smell of fabric softener coming out of the dryer vent on the family’s house. In retaliation, he allegedly rigged up a device to fan kerosene fumes onto their property. The noxious fumes made one of the children sick.

Because the man seemingly would not stop bullying his neighbors and others in the community, a judge recently included an interesting punishment in his sentence. The man was forced to spend five hours on a Sunday holding up a sign at a busy intersection.

The sign said: "I AM A BULLY! I pick on children that are disabled, and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in."

While unconventional, this punishment was welcomed by those who have been victimized by the man. Hopefully, he will now realize what it feels like to be picked on and called out for being different.

Source: Cleveland.com, "Accused bully says judge who sentenced him to hold sign in public 'destroyed' his life," Adam Ferrise, April 13, 2014

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